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Old 10-07-2007, 09:50 AM
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Default 5 blasts on ships horn

Does 5 or more blasts on the ship's horn, still indicate an emergency situation? On Saturday, Oct. 6 during the Columbus day regatta, we had a life threatening emergency on board. Repeated blasts on the ships horn evoked no response by passing, (get this) USCG,Florida marine patrol, NOAA, Miami-Dade County Fire rescue, Coral Gables police: Don't any of these agency know ships signals? Once the fire rescue realized we had a problem, there response was excellent. They air lifted the person to the hospital where she is being treated. A mayday call on the radio may not have helped due to the fact there were so many boats, they probably couldn't locate us. The vessel I was on was 68 ft long and the horn signal was very loud, but no response.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

5 blasts on the horn are a danger signal, not a universal distress signal. Distress signals include, but are not limited to:
Flames in a bucket
Code Flags-November & Charlie
Hand-held or parachute flares
Gun fired at one-minute intervals
Radio mayday
Fog horn sounded continuously
Person waving arms
There are more....but you get the idea.

Edited to add: glad to hear the situation turned out OK....
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:18 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

Yep, it's a danger signal. Such as "I'm a big ship and can't stop or turn so you better get out of my way".

I would hope anyone operating a 68 foot ship would know to use the radio, not the horn. Also, the radio provides two way communications, the ship's horn does not.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

If you had used the radio and started out with 3 MayDays the other boats around you would have gone quiet. you could then have directed the responding ship by sight or hand held flare.
The reson the other boats would have gone silent is twofold. Those who understand will immediatly follow the rules and cease all transmissions in response to a Mayday call. Those who did not understand to do that would have stopped to listen because they are nosy.
Regardless the cosat guard would have broken in and slienced the other transmissions.

Good to hear she is OK. Can you share what the issue was?

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Old 10-07-2007, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

The vhf should have been the first thing to use, this would have alerted them to actively look for your vessel. I would hope
that a 68 ft vessel would have a vhf with gps entwined for locating and would atleast get them in the general area. The
USCG could then instruct you as to flags or flares ect to spot you quickly.

Glad the lady received help and hope she recovers well.




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Old 10-07-2007, 10:29 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

agree with the above radio is best
when i took the test and its still true, some of the distress signals are kind of old,but i bet firing a gun in a crowded harbor gets attention fast
glad everything is well
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:40 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

Quote:
bigjimmie - 10/7/2007 9:29 AM

agree with the above radio is best
when i took the test and its still true, some of the distress signals are kind of old,but i bet firing a gun in a crowded harbor gets attention fast
glad everything is well
Not if there's a race going on.

And if you believe some of the people on THT, someone is likely to fire back.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:26 AM
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Default RE: 5 blasts on ships horn

Quote:
A mayday call on the radio may not have helped due to the fact there were so many boats, they probably couldn't locate us. The vessel I was on was 68 ft long and the horn signal was very loud, but no response.
68 foot vessel and not use the VHF??? I think a call on 16 with som Lat/Lon coordinates and they would have found you just fine.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:49 AM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

At the same Columbus day regatta last year, I used the VHF to contact the coast guard to notify them that a bunch of people on a nearby boat were struggling to revive an unconscious woman that had collapsed on the deck. They responded on Channel 16 after a couple of tries, but they didn't want coordinates. Instead, I lit up a hand held smoke flare that was easily spotted by one of their helicopters overhead and the helo directed the rescue vessels to my spot. The problem with coast guard and other law enforcement units patrolling the regatta party (the regatta participants are hardly ever involved in any incidents) is that they carry several radios and monitor several frequencies, some that are used exclusively by those agencies. Therefore, channel 16 traffic does not always get an immediate response from the nearest units. And, in years past when the parties were really wild, many law enforcement units were too busy enforcing the laws or merely watching the entertainment, which used to be pretty interesting, I might add. Today, the parties are mostly PG-13 compared to years past.
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Old 10-07-2007, 04:34 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

I was not operating the boat but the radio was probably the best advise. There were so many people around the person in distress, no one told me it was life threatning. Next time ( and I hope there wont be) I will use the radio. thanks for the advise
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

to clarify-
Five blasts on the horn is a manuvering danger signal- if you are at anchor I think It means 'I am Aground'...

the real trouble with horn signals is that most people at a regatta/raftup/whateva are likely using it to signal that another top came off, or to signal YAAAA BEEEER!.
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:42 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

I fish the Columbia River a lot and we anchor to fish for salmon (other methods also but anchoring is popular) some people will anchor in the channel and the large ships will give you 5 blasts to let you know you will be ran over if you don't move. The Coast Guard will give you a spendy ticket if they have to blast the horn at you. It is handy to have a GPS mapping plotter to show the channel.
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Old 10-09-2007, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

Some of the responses are completely or partially correct, and other are wrong. The five (or more) short blast signal is found in rule 34 of both the inland and international navigation rules and states that

"When vessels in sight of one another are approaching each other and from any cause either vessel fails to understand the intentions or actions of the other, or is in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other to avoid collision, the vessel in doubt shall immediately indicate such doubt by giving at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle."

These rules may be found online at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/mwv/navrules/navrules.htm .

The situation described is neither distress nor danger, but an urgent situation. The proper procedure would have been to send an urgent broadcast via radiotelephone (PAN-PAN) as this is considered an "urgent" situation. Here is a web site with a bit of a training aid: http://powerboat.about.com/cs/marine...mergencies.htm.

At any rate, the VHF radio is and should be your primary means of communitations while on the water. When in range, cel phone may also be used, if you know the number to whom you need. I have been advised that 911 does not work very well for Coast Guard response in most areas due to the way calls are routed.

Please be safe, and everyone, make sure you know the rules of the road and proper emergency procedures.

Stan Gold
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

I was at this years Columbus Day party.

5 short blasts is the "danger" or "doubt" signal - as others have pointed out. On a regular day it may have attracted attention. But on Columbus Day, when at least 2,000 boats are anchored and 10% of them are blowing their horns constantly - 5 short blasts will not stand out.

Distress signals would be morse code SOS. This is three short, three long, three short. This may have attracted more attention. Or the loud hailer - if your boat had one.

A hand held distress flare would have also attracted attention - even more so if you made a call on channel 16 saying you were going to pop off a distress flare.

What I did was anchor up in a spot close to the madness, but not IN the madness. I brought my kayak so I could always paddle to the craziness if I wanted. Otherwise, my boat was away from the thick of things.

OH YEA! I also tied a 10 pound wright to my anchor line. This way I could put out a lot of scope (there was wind) and get an excellent hold with the anchor - but not get my line run over. The weight keeps the line hanging almost 90 degrees off my bow, down four or five feet - or all the way to the bottom if I want. Then the line is mostly safe.

Before I could get the weight tied on a police boat DID run over my line. I yelled at the guy (who was way too close to my bow, I was not in the thick of the mess so there was enough room around me) and he did shot down the engines, so no damage was done.

Too bad. I should have let the police boat cut the line. I had a spare anchor. Then I could claim I had 300 feet of line, with a 20 foot length of stainless steel chain back spliced to the line (I have a windlass) and of course a nice stainless steel anchor. Or made the cops go swimming for my anchor. My plain galvanized anchor is just not shiny and flashy. I have anchor envy sometimes.

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Old 10-09-2007, 02:32 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

5 blasts = danger or doubt. This is not a distress call. This is a message indicating a dangerous or doubtful (dangerous) situation.

With a vessel meeting your description, you would have no problem being identified, even with other large vessels in your vicinity. A distress call on VHF channel 16 to the U.S.C.G. stating in your case scenario, pon pon pon - pon pon pon, then stating the vessels name as well your location (Lat. & Lon. #'s from the GPS) would have achieved you a more immediate response. You would have then been asked by the Coast Guard marine operator to state your situation and you should be able to provide a clear and concise description. A Mayday is usually and supposed to only be called when a vessel is in immenent danger of going down. There are three types of distress calls (Securitay, Pon, Mayday) that can be made to the Coast Guard and it depends upon the level of priority of the situation.
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Old 10-09-2007, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

To those who stated otherwise, why would this not be a Mayday call, there was imminent risk to life, to wit, "we had a life threatening emergency on board"?

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Old 10-09-2007, 03:28 PM
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Default RE: 5 blasts on ships horn

jerryk, By reading some of the post on FS it seems like the captain of that boat had no idea how to opertate that boat. You guys ran over anchor lines and broke free many boats. They also mentioned you were dragging a police boat

I am glad to hear that the person is being treated.
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Old 10-09-2007, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

So that was the large yacht I saw run over a bunch of anchor lines and get escorted out of the area by the police?
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Old 10-09-2007, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

JerryK,

Isn't 5 blasts used by a boat that is underway?

Five or more short and rapid blasts is a danger signal used when the other vesselís
intentions are not understood or where the other vesselís indicated course is dangerous.

That may be why nobody was responding. Best bet, was to get on the VHF. You could have called a May Day if the victims life was in danger versus an injury. You also could have hailed the Coast Guard and advised them of the situation.

You did the best you can, and the victim made it to the hospital.

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Old 10-09-2007, 08:23 PM
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Default Re: 5 blasts on ships horn

Quote:
fishie1 - 10/9/2007 3:07 PM

To those who stated otherwise, why would this not be a Mayday call, there was imminent risk to life, to wit, "we had a life threatening emergency on board"?
Clearly the individual communicated a NAVIGATIONAL SIGNAL.

But, someone should have communicated a DISTRESS SIGNAL.

Totally different.......

I have no idea whether the individual can operate a vessel, but they may want to bone up on signals. Some do it and some don't but, a short safety talk before the vessel gets underway can make a huge difference. Doesn't have to include everything, mine don't, but just some basics for everyone on board.
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